JOHANESSBURG - Spiralling costs in health care have seen South African private healthcare consumers paying progressively more for their medical scheme membership in recent years, yet many members find that their day-to-day benefits, and sometimes even their chronic benefit limits, run out long before the end of the year.

“With a significant and growing proportion of the public requiring long-term medicine for chronic illnesses, this has become a major cost driver for medical schemes and the members they serve,” said Louis Scheepers, the acting chief executive of Medipost Pharmacy.

Chronic medicines are a lifeline to those living with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, liver diseases and HIV, yet many people are unaware that there are measures they can take to help reduce the costs associated with treatment.

Medipost Pharmacy said that medical schemes and their members were obtaining better value thanks to the company’s innovative approach to distribution of more affordable generic medicines. Generic medicines are more affordable equivalents of pharmaceuticals that are produced once the patent on the original medicine has lapsed.

“It is important to remember that generics contain the same active ingredients and are quality-assured by local regulators so as to ensure that they are as safe and effective as the original medicine,” Scheepers said. “However, the cost of these medicines is usually significantly less,” he added. 

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